Rating: 3 / 5
SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS by Guadalupe Garcia McCall is about a very interesting summer vacation! The book tells the story of five sisters who discover a newly deceased body floating in the river near their home in Texas. After contemplating their options and upon discovering that the man has an ID linking him to a home in Mexico somewhat near their grandmother’s home, the girls decide to take the man’s body back to his family.
The situation requires a bit of a suspension of disbelief as the five girls dress up the body to look like their father and the eldest daughter uses her limited knowledge of driving at age 15 to get them across the border into Mexico. The girls have a spirit guide looking out for them and a magical earring with five wishes attached to help them on their way. As they go to deliver the body and then seek out their grandmother, they face monsters and magical creatures that they must get past on their journey.
I picked up this book because it was one of Book Riot’s recommendations for their #readharder prompt for an own voices book set in Mexico or Central America. I did not initially realize when I picked up this book that it is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey written for a middle grade to young YA reader, but the author does a good job incorporating the mythical journey’s elements.
The magical realism elements are intertwined with very real life sisterly squabbles of five young girls on a road trip alone. The girls are dealing with their father’s abandonment and their mother’s need to leave them a lot in order to work enough to support a family of six alone.
Overall I enjoyed this book when read through a middle grade lens. It was a fun story and a quick read. It also made a perfect ‘summer book’ pick for the Reading Women Podcast’s birthday Bingo reading challenge!